cover image Buddhism for Bears

Buddhism for Bears

Chris Riddell, Claire Nielson. St. Martin's Press, $12.95 (80pp) ISBN 978-0-312-20503-4

Nieslon and Riddell team up to offer the practical insights of Buddhism to our ursine friends. Riddell has held forth on the virtues of Buddhism to domesticated animals already in Buddhism for Sheep, and his portly bear friends here discover the merits of wisdom and self-control, even as they learn meditation techniques that will help them achieve truth. Each page features one of Riddell's humorous illustrations of Nielson's text. For example, the teaching on wisdom--""Let go of the craving and greed that bind you to the world""--is accompanied by a drawing of a bear climbing out too far on a limb to reach a bee's nest and the limb snapping. On self-control: as Goldilocks thumbs her nose at the bears, they are advised to ""practice self-restraint with regard to your fellow beings."" On techniques: the bears are advised to ""choose nourishing vegetables rather than meat"" even as the illustration shows the inherent dangers the Buddhist bear faces in tearing into a moose's hide. Finally, as a bear prepares to step into a leg trap, it is reminded that ""self-mortification does not lead to inner truth."" On the one hand, this is a silly little book whose (p)awful humor is unbearable, e.g. drunken bears being advised to ""abstain from drinking intoxicating liquors and spirits."" On the other hand, though, like the Porcine History of Western Philosophy, this little manual offers a simple introduction to Buddhist principles and techniques for beginners. (July)